Kentucky Wildcats

Former Kentucky QB Maxwell Smith will transfer to San Diego State

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As a freshman, quarterback Maxwell Smith appeared to be the future of Kentucky Wildcats football. After a change in coaching staffs and a continuous quarterback carousel, Smith won’t finish his career at Kentucky.

Instead, Smith will return to his home state and become a member of the San Diego State Aztecs, according to Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Maxwell Smith’s father confirmed Friday that his son will transfer.

“He loves, loves, loves, loves Kentucky with all of his heart; he is sad,” Carl Smith texted to Jennifer Smith. “He’s happy but sad.”

The quarterback’s career looked like it was going to take off during the 2012 campaign. After being named to the Freshmen All-SEC Team, Maxwell Smith started four games as a sophomore. During those four games, he completed 68.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns. His season came to a premature end, though, due to an ankle surgery.

Maxwell Smith was never able to recover the momentum he built as a young player in Lexington. He battled a shoulder injury this past year and never threw a pass for the Wildcats during the 2014 campaign.

As a graduate transfer, Maxwell Smith is eligible to play next season. He’ll provide an immediate starting option after Quinn Kaehler exhausted his eligibility.

No one knows exactly who will be directing San Diego State’s quarterbacks, though, after their position coach, Brian Sipe, was dismissed after the season, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Jalen Hurd invokes an Adrian Peterson comparison from UK coach

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Very few college football players during the game’s illustrious history have been as talented as Adrian Peterson. The running back was an all-time great during his three seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners.

However, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops invoked Peterson’s name when discussing Tennessee Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd.

“He’s just a complete running back,” Stoops said Thursday after practice, via The Courier-Journal. “Just physically if you look at him, he reminds me of Adrian Peterson a little bit. Just that big tall, good-looking running back. Very dynamic player. He’s going to be a heck of a player. They do a nice job of trying to get him the ball in space in a lot of different ways. He looks like he has very good top-end speed and he has that way with some big backs to just be very elusive. Maybe doesn’t look as flashy as the little guys sometimes, but he’s always running away from people, running through people. He’s a very good player.”

Stoops doesn’t have any first-hand experience dealing with Peterson. That was his brother. But the name isn’t brought up without some reverence for the talent that Peterson displayed during his time at Oklahoma.

The Kentucky coach needs to be wary of praising Hurd too much since the Wildcats host the Volunteers this Saturday. Stoops’ squad will be tasked with stopping Adrian Peterson-lite.

As a true freshman, Hurd leads Tennessee with 134 carries for 598 rushing yards. The talented runner is coming off his best game of the season after the Nov. 1 meeting with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Hurd ran the ball 21 times for 125 yards during the Volunteers’ 45-42 overtime victory.

No. 1 Miss. St. Bulldogs appear vulnerable during 45-31 victory over Kentucky

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Surivive and advance. That’s all that matters at this point in the season.

The No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs escaped Lexington, Kentucky with a 45-31 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Don’t let the final score fool you.

The Wildcats only trailed by a touchdown as the two teams entered the third quarter. Mark Stoops‘ squad had two opportunities late in the game. During the Kentucky’s drive with five minutes remaining, two dropped passes (one on third down and one in the end zone) kept the Wildcats from getting within striking distance.

It didn’t matter since Kentucky then got the ball back after stopping Mississippi State on the ensuing drive. Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles led his team on a seven-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by the signal-caller.

An unheard of touchdown during the onside kick is what turned this contest in a two-score victory for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State never dominated this contest like the best team in the nation should have. Kentucky is a young and improving program, but their best win this season came against a struggling South Carolina squad. Otherwise, the Wildcats’ other four wins came against the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, Ohio Bobcats, Vanderbilt Commodores and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Dan Mullen‘s squad wasn’t crisp on offense, quarterback Dak Prescott struggled in the passing game and the team’s bend-but-don’t-break defense finally broke…multiple times.

The Bulldogs didn’t have an answer for Towles. Kentucky’s quarterback threw for 390 yards and ran for 76 more despite being sacked numerous times.

Kentucky amassed an impressive 504 yards. As the Bulldogs continue their season, an inability to consistently stop opposing offenses becomes a major red flag.

Mississippi State’s backfield once again became the team’s saving grace.

Quarterback Dak Prescott accumulated 304 total yards and three touchdowns to keep his Heisman campaign chugging along. Prescott made multiple highlight-reel runs during the contest, but running back Josh Robinson was Mississippi State’s bell cow Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs’ bowling ball of a running back ran for 198 yards including a 73-yard touchdown romp early in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State was in unfamiliar territory this weekend. Expectations are sky high after the team received its first No. 1 overall ranking in school history. The Bulldogs could have faltered. Kentucky gave them everything they could handle. Instead, the Bulldogs kept their undefeated season alive. And that is all that matters.

No. 1 Bulldogs lead Kentucky 17-10 at halftime despite slow start

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The Mississippi State Bulldogs are playing their very first game as the nation’s No. 1 overall team. How the program reacted to the pressure of being the nation’s top team would be a telling sign as the Bulldogs progressed this season.

Despite the team’s newfound success, the Bulldogs didn’t dominate the first half of Saturday’s game as expected. The Kentucky Wildcats are still within striking distance. The Bulldogs hold a 17-10 lead, and Kentucky has outplayed Mississippi State at times.

“We’re playing a little sloppy, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen told CBS before going into the locker room at halftime. “We need to clean it up. We need to play a lot better in the second half.”

Mullen built a winning program due to winning in the trenches and riding the team’s dual-threat quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Kentucky matched Mississippi State along the offensive and defensive lines. Where the Wildcats have been found lacking is at the quarterback position.

Prescott, who may be the favorite to win this year’s Heisman Trophy, was 10-of-17 passing for 111 yards and a late interception. Where he made a difference was running the football. The quarterback leads Mississippi State with 43 rushing yards and a touchdown. His ability to make big plays as a runner makes the Bulldogs dangerous even when the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders (see: below).

Mark Stoops‘ defense has done a tremendous job containing the Bulldogs for the most part. Outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Bud Sasser have proven to be thorns in the side of Prescott. The majority of Mississippi State’s 114 rushing yards have come up the middle.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State’s imposing defense surrendered 193 total yards to an erratic Wildcats offense. The big play came when Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles connected with wide receiver Demarco Robinson on a short out pattern which became a long 67-yard touchdown thanks to the senior’s ability to tiptoe down the sideline.

Otherwise, Towles is 8-of-17 passing for only 75 yards.

As the second half approaches, Kentucky needs to maintain its intensity on defense while attempting to get more out of its running game to take pressure off Towles. But it’s far more likely Mississippi State’s superior talent will eventually take over despite coasting through the first two quarters.

Kentucky’s Stanley Williams not cleared to play against No. 1 Mississippi State

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The Kentucky Wildcats will face the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs this afternoon without one of their most potent offensive weapons.

Freshman running back Stanley Williams suffered a concussion last Saturday against the LSU Tigers. He didn’t return to the game nor did he practice all week.

Williams announced on twitter that he won’t be available for today’s contest:

The 5-9, 200-pound running back was third on the team with 222 rushing yards. The talented freshman averaged 7.4 yards each time he ran the ball, though.

Williams was Kentucky’s best all-around threat. The running back already had eight catches for 90 yards this season. He is also the team’s primary kick returner and averages 30 yards per return.

With Williams out of the lineup, the Wildcats have three capable running back that already split time in the backfield. Sophomore JoJo Kemp, junior Braylon Heard and freshman Mikel Horton will continue to rotate at running back against the Bulldogs’ talented defensive front.

On special teams, sophomore cornerback J.D. Harmon is Williams’ likely replacement as the team’s top kicker returner. Harmon returned two kicks this season for 53 yards.

Anytime the No. 1 team in the country comes to town, the underdog needs all the help it can get to potentially pull off an upset. Unfortunately for Kentucky, one of the Wildcats’ most explosive players isn’t available, and they’ll have to adjust.